Legendary racing broadcaster Ken Squier has a saying about local racers. They’re “ordinary men doing extraordinary things.” Mike Shewchuk is an ordinary man from South Bend, Indiana. This past Saturday, Shewchuk did something extraordinary. He set a world record at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Speedway during the Call of the Wild event.
Shewchuk turned a lap around the 3/8-mile oval of Kalamazoo Speedway in 9.924 seconds. That’s an average speed of 136.034 mph. The previous record, set by Shewchuk’s “idol,” Andy Bozell in 2011, was a time of 10.020 seconds.
“I looked up and saw a 9,” Shewchuk told Speed51.com powered by JEGS on Tuesday afternoon. “But I couldn’t tell if it was a 10.09 or what it was. Then all of the sudden the crowd was going nuts with the cameras and the cell phones and then I thought, ‘Wow. That is a 9! The first number is a 9!’ It gave me chills. But I’m just glad for the fans. That’s what it’s about.”
The 47-year-old driver said that he still hasn’t fully processed what he accomplished on Saturday night, but others are helping him get there.
“It’s finally starting to set in just because of all the people that have acknowledged it,” Shewchuk said. “I was surprised. I don’t have Facebook or anything. I’m kind of old school. Texting is as far advanced as I am. But I’ve been getting texts from people daily. I got about five texts today from people I don’t even know saying ‘awesome job.’ It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be I guess.”
Shewchuk turned his lap in time-trials for the Call of the Wild 50-lap “billboard car” event. It’s an Outlaw Super Late Model event, but competitors are allowed to mount giant boards to the roof of the cars.
He explained that the boards help with downforce by planting the cars to the race track and keeping them from spinning out. To some people out there the huge boards may look a bit strange, but it’s all done in an effort to go fast.
And Shewchuk definitely went fast, fast enough to even surprise himself.
“We went to M 40 Speedway (MI) in the morning and tested with that car,” explained Shewchuk. “We weren’t too impressed with the test at all. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I was a little worried. So I thought if I could turn a lap in the 10’s then I would be happy.”
But Shewchuk managed to go faster than just the 10-second bracket. He did something that has never been done before. He did something that thrilled the thousands in attendance and the thousands that have since viewed video of the record-setting lap on the internet.
However, he thinks that he could have done it just a little bit better, and perhaps been even faster.
“I think I left some out on the track to be honest,” he said. “I’m not trying to be arrogant, but I think I left a tenth out there. So that’s my goal. I feel it isn’t earned until I defend it. I need to go back next year and go faster.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Kalamazoo Speedway
-Video Credit: Mike Ross